MTA Institute Trainers Gather for Annual Conference and Trainer of the Year Announcement

As the largest private provider of automotive apprenticeships in Queensland, the MTA Institute delivers face-to-face, in-the-workshop training to more than 1800 students across the state.

To offer this type of on-site training to apprentices across Queensland – from remote regional areas to major urban centres – requires the Institute’s 28 trainers to work semi-independently, be proactive in the guidance and assistance they deliver to their students, and lean on the cutting-edge hardware, digital technology and communications systems that the MTA Institute champions and that enables such training to be delivered successfully.

It is important, however, that the Institute’s experienced trainers do get together to discuss developments in the automotive industry, compare experiences, and upskill themselves on the newest ideas, concepts and methods that are evolving in the training sector.

As is tradition, this past December the MTA Institute brought together its trainers from across the state to the MTA Queensland head office complex in Brisbane to consider all these issues and more at its annual trainers’ conference.

A lot is packed into the two-day conference each year, and the 2020 edition was no different.

Trainers took part in workshops and seminars that considered Department of Employment, Small Business and Training Quality and Compliance requirements; the application of competency standards; training technology updates; and business development, administration and AUR transition processes. Of particular interest this year – and a sign of the direction in which the automotive industry and the training sector is heading – was a detailed professional development session focusing on Bosch ADAS systems (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems).

It is this sort of gathering and intensive discussion and workshopping process – together with regular, remote, webinar group sessions – that enables the MTA Institute to continue to be at the forefront of industry-leading, innovative, automotive training.

“It is always good to bring the training team together, in particular this year given the challenging circumstances with COVID,” said Paul Kulpa, General Manager Training & Innovation.

“The agenda was wide and varied,” he added. “Along with the validating and moderating of our assessment tools, the technical professional development with Bosch ADAS Training, and the quality and compliance and competencies presentation, we also had sports dietitian, performance nutritionist and exercise physiologist Angelique Clark talk to us about trainer nutrition.

“There also was a communication workshop by Sally Healy from the Careers Development Centre to assist trainers with strategies to support individuals and apprentices. And, finally, there was a session on Information Technology development designed to support the trainers in the field with all their computer hardware.

“All up, it was a pretty comprehensive couple of days and, as always, extremely valuable and productive.”

TRAINER OF THE YEAR 2020

A highlight of the Trainer’s conference is the announcement of the Trainer of the Year award recipient, and this year the award was presented to Senior Technical Trainer Ross Wilson.

Ross, who delivers training in all automotive trades (except panel and paint) to apprentices across the Wide Bay-Burnett region said he was surprised and proud to have been named the award winner, adding that being able to deliver the training could not be done without the backing and support of the administration team, colleagues, and others.

“I am very honoured to win the award and I really had no idea it was coming, but it really is a team effort,” he said.

Like all MTA Institute trainers, Ross, who joined the organisation in 2012, worked for many years in the automotive industry before turning his hand to education. Passing on his skills and knowledge is important to him, and the one-on-one model that the MTA Institute uses to deliver training has proved, Ross said, to be a positive for everyone involved.

“I wanted to teach in some capacity, and the opportunity through this job was to use my real-world experience as a basis for teaching to the next generation coming through. It is very rewarding,” he said.

“The workplace model we use is, I feel, really appreciated by employers,” he added. “It doesn’t disrupt their workplace as much as sending their apprentice off-site, and the more personal approach allows the employer to be involved with the training and receive and give direct feedback, which allows for customising the training to suit all involved. I particularly like the on-site model as I can attempt to relate all training to the students’ workplace.”

With more than 30 years spent in workshops and another decade spent training apprentices, Ross has seen plenty of changes in the automotive industry and said that the next few years would be challenging but exciting for everyone.

“There are going to be some major disruptions to our industry with alternative fuels, electric power, and autonomous vehicles,” he said. “Successful long-term businesses will have to pivot at some point to stay across those developments and we all need to be prepared to roll with the changes.”

According to Paul Kulpa, choosing the Trainer of the Year is always a very difficult decision, and it was even more so in a year that was affected by the COVID pandemic, with all the Institute’s staff putting in the hard yards to make sure the apprentices and their employers received the best level of service possible.

“This was always going to be hard to pick because all the trainers put in a big effort over the year,” said Mr Kulpa. “However, Ross performed exceptionally given his extra responsibilities of becoming a Senior Trainer.

“He provided quality training delivery, has well established systems in place, his administration is always spot on, and he delivers excellent customer service.

“He has an excellent understanding of our operations and is able to execute work directions with minimal direction. He is also able to assist with feedback around our Learning Management System and is always looking for ways where we can improve our business processes.

“Overall, his commitment to training students and helping employers is second to none and is deserving of the accolade.”

Commenting further on the COVID-affected year that was 2020, Mr Kulpa acknowledged the phenomenal work done by everyone involved with the MTA Institute’s training operation.

“I’ve never seen a year like 2020, but the training team did a remarkable job in the most trying of circumstances,” he said.

“We navigated COVID-19 through flexibility, through working with students and employers, and we got through the challenge without missing a beat. We improved our innovation in training delivery and support services with our learning management system and programs such as Auto Camp, the Automotive Pre-Vocational courses, and HEV/BEV programs.

“2021 will bring its own set of unique challenges, but we have a strong team and look forward to taking on those new challenges and enjoying the success of the hard work done this past year.”

Source: Motor Trader e-Magazine (February 2021)

4 February 2021